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How traps and 'Judas pigs' are helping in Sask.'s battle against wild boars

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2020-02-02 Bryan Eneas
Wild-boar in Mud © Getty Wild-boar in Mud

Depending on who you ask, Saskatchewan is in the midst of a wild boar crisis.

Some say the animals could soon outnumber people who live in the province. Others dispute that, from an anecdotal or statistical perspective.

Regardless of where their beliefs fall, there are plans in place to combat the animal's presence in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) manages the province's feral wild boar control program.

"Wild pigs left unchecked can cause extensive damage… to wetlands, croplands, and I think just about any type of property," SCIC executive director of insurance Darby Warner told CBC Radio.

SCIC recently started using corral traps and something called "Judas pigs" in their fight against wild boars.

The so-called "Judas pigs" are essentially animals that give up the location of other wild boars.

Warner said after a cull, one pig is left alive and given a GPS collar that sends a signal back to SCIC every four hours.

Due to their nature as "family animals," he said the pig will eventually find another group of boars to hang out with and, in turn, give away their location.

When using the corral traps, or live traps — which are monitored by trail cameras — animals can enter the structure through a raised gate.

Once they're inside, Warner said a picture is taken and a signal is sent to the trail camera which then drops the gate, trapping the animals.

Part of the battle against wild boars is their intelligence. Killing them off one by one isn't exactly the best method to reduce their numbers according to Warner, who said simply harvesting one animal teaches others to be scared of hunters.

He said the same thing can happen with wild pigs that are baited. They eventually become "educated" about the baiting process and quickly adapt.

"With the [live traps] we're able to capture all of the animals at one time so we're not subsequently educating them about traps and bait on the ground," Warner said, adding the animals are euthanized after being captured.

Through SCIC eradication efforts, Warner said 400 wild pigs have been dealt with over the last four years. Warner said the long-term goal of the program is eradication of wild boars in Saskatchewan.

"Right now we're at the stage where we're working on some control and gaining that expertise so we can be more effective with the eradication efforts," he said.

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